Body recovered from rubble of collapsed NYC parking garage

Apr 19, 2023, 3:37 PM | Updated: 9:18 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Crews pulled a body from the rubble of a New York City parking garage Wednesday, as building inspectors sought to pinpoint a cause for the century-old structure’s deadly collapse.

It was a delicate operation to recover the victim and remove as many as 90 vehicles scattered on the structure’s buckled top deck and amid tons of shattered concrete. Crews used cranes to pluck cars from the ruins one by one but made only modest progress.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has opened an investigation into the collapse, a spokesperson said. A preliminary investigation found that all three floors of the garage partially or completely collapsed, according to the city’s Buildings Department. The garage’s rear wall partially collapsed, and the front facade bulged.

“Right now we’re transitioning to how we safely take down that building,” Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said at a news conference, a day after the multilevel building crumbled just as a stream of customers were returning from work to retrieve their cars.

Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said crews recovered the body late Wednesday, and it was turned over to the city’s chief medical examiner’s office. The identity of the victim was not immediately released, and it was not immediately known if it was that of a missing garage worker.

Enterprise Ann Parking, which operated the garage on Ann Street, said it was cooperating with authorities on the probe.

“This is a tragic event. We are devastated at the loss of one of our long-time employees and our thoughts are with his family and those who were injured in the accident,” the company’s spokesman, Jeremy Zweig, said in a statement.

“We thank all of the first responders who quickly attended to those who were impacted and appreciate their courageous work,” the statement continued.

Two decades ago, city inspectors cited the property owner for failing to properly maintain the building, finding at the time that there were “cracks and defects” in the concrete. A more recent inspection in fall 2013 showed no further structural issues, according to an update the Building Department provided Wednesday.

Beginning last year, parking garages in parts of Manhattan were required to undergo structural inspections and file reports with the city by the end of 2023, with additional inspections at least once every six years. City officials said the garage’s owners had yet to comply.

“There’s an investigation into exactly what happened here and making sure there’s something we could put in place to prevent something like this from happening,” Mayor Eric Adams said.

Theories abounded, and officials said they would consider all potential explanations — including the possibility that the structural integrity of older parking structures might be undermined by today’s heavier SUVs.

The mayor said that could be a matter worthy of investigation.

“We are living in a new environment and we have to constantly analyze and upgrade everything from weight capacity to how many cars can be there,” Adams said.

The garage caved at around 4 p.m. Tuesday, a few blocks from City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge, killing at least one person and injuring five others.

The collapse shook nearby buildings and terrified people who likened the sound to a massive explosion and the experience to a violent earthquake.

Pace University evacuated an adjacent dormitory and a classroom building and canceled evening classes as it assessed its buildings’ safety. City inspectors told Pace it could resume use of the buildings, though the school said it would hold some classes online and have staff work remotely for the time being, university spokesperson Jerry McKinstry said.

In all, six nearby buildings were under evacuation orders pending inspections, according to city officials.

The Building Department said that in 2009, the garage’s owners had been cited for failing to maintain the building because of cracks and defects in concrete. Officials ordered the owner to hire a professional engineer and correct the violations. The owners began complying in January 2010 and filed applications to make structural repairs and install 34 auto lifts.

In November 2011 an inspection found that the interior maintenance was “in good condition.” But city officials said they never received the required certificates of correction for previous violations, even though the owner paid all associated penalties.

The mayor said the body of the man killed in the collapse was discovered by a doglike robot deployed by the Fire Department to search the ruins, and he defended his decision last week to allow the Police Department to use such machines after receiving criticism.

“We did not want to send people inside there. We couldn’t even send a cadaver dog in there, because that cadaver dog would have gone in there and could have potentially had a collapse and harmed someone,” Adams said earlier in the day.

“If we didn’t have that robotic dog, we would have placed those firefighters in jeopardy,” the mayor added.

As heavy machinery began demolishing the building and filled the area with thick clouds of dust, some regular customers returned to see if their cars had been retrieved and to pay their respects to the missing worker, who they said was always friendly.

“Every morning I’d see him,” said Ahmed Scott, one of the regulars. “When I was leaving that morning — the last time we saw each other — we smiled, waved at each other. We knew we’d see each other in the afternoon, same place, same time.”

Adam Cohen, who lives in a nearby building, said his family had not been allowed to return home. A nearby hotel was also temporarily shuttered as a precaution.

Cohen showed a photo of the top deck of the parking garage and pointed to his Nissan Pathfinder, which had been swallowed by a huge fissure, its tail end pointing to the sky.

___

Associated Press writers Michael R. Sisak and Karen Matthews in New York City, and Maysoon Khan in Albany, New York, contributed to this report.

United States News

This photo provided by the chipmaker Nvidia shows the company’s HGX H100 module, which can use as...

Associated Press

AI chips are hot. Here’s what they are, what they’re for and why investors see gold

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hottest thing in technology is an unprepossessing sliver of silicon closely related to the chips that power video game graphics. It’s an artificial intelligence chip, designed specifically to make building AI systems such as ChatGPT faster and cheaper. Such chips have suddenly taken center stage in what some experts consider […]

1 day ago

Natalie R. Coles, vice president & chief development officer at Wilberforce University, poses on th...

Associated Press

US companies, nudged by Black employees, have stepped up donations to HBCUs

Natalie Coles will never forget receiving an unexpected phone call in 2020. On the line was Virginia-based Dominion Energy, offering to give money to Wilberforce University, the small historically Black college where she is in charge of fundraising. The company’s $500,000 donation went in part toward laptops and hot spots for students when the pandemic […]

1 day ago

FILE - This booking photo provided by the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff's Office shows Andrew Lester. L...

Associated Press

Judge agrees to seal court documents in Ralph Yarl shooting; suspect to be in court

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly came to his door last month is scheduled to be back in court Thursday, days after a judge ruled that court documents in the case will be sealed and kept from the public. The hearing for 84-year-old Andrew Lester […]

1 day ago

FILE - Susana Lujano, left, a dreamer from Mexico who lives in Houston, joins other activists to ra...

Associated Press

Revised DACA program to be debated before Texas judge who previously ruled against it

HOUSTON (AP) — A revised version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is set to be debated Thursday before a federal judge who previously ruled the program illegal. Attorneys representing the nine states that have sued to end the Deferred Action […]

1 day ago

FILE - Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that lega...

Associated Press

LGBTQ+ Pride month kicks off with protests, parades, parties

NEW YORK (AP) — The start of June marks the beginning of Pride month around the U.S. and some parts of the world, a season to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities and to protest against recent attacks on hard-won civil rights gains. This year’s Pride takes place in a contentious political climate […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

After sailing though House on bipartisan vote, Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veering away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the Senate for swift passage in a matter of days, before a fast-approaching deadline. The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Body recovered from rubble of collapsed NYC parking garage